Cebu bishop disappointed over House OK of divorce bill
CEBU CITY-Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma expressed disappointment over the House of Representatives’ approval of a bill which seeks to legalize absolute divorce and dissolution of marriage in the country.
The head of the country’s biggest archdiocese that is home to close to four million Catholics, however, remained optimistic that it would not be enacted into a law.
“We’re hoping that it won’t be approved in the Senate. We pray that they (legislators) will be enlightened. I’m sure they won’t be happy if future generations will blame them for a legacy that does not bring about the good of the community, but rather its destruction,” the 68-year-old said in an interview after he presided over the Chrism Mass and renewal of priestly vows at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on Tuesday.
The lower House on Monday passed on third and final reading the proposed divorce bill.
Two lawmakers abstained from voting in the approval of House Bill 7303, or “An Act Instituting Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage in the Philippines.”
A total of 134 congressmen voted for the bill, 57 opposed, while two abstained.
But even before the bill is submitted to the Senate, some members of the upper chamber already expressed opposition to the divorce bill.
Unlike many congressmen, Palma said he was expecting senators to make an independent evaluation of the issue, and not base their decisions on what their political allies say.
“We begin to question our congressmen’s discernment and allegiance. Who do they really represent? Sometimes, they are more inclined to pushing for what they want instead of expressing the sentiments of the people they represent. We feel sad about it,” he said.
“I think senators are more independent-minded. They discern what is good for the country,” he said. The Philippines and the Vatican are the only two places in the world where divorce is not allowed.
Under Philippine law, the only way for married couples in the Philippines to separate is through annulment, an often agonizing, lengthy, and expensive court process.
Although it allows the couple to separate their possessions and live apart, annulment does not sever the marital bond.
The proposed divorce law seeks to ensure those seeking to separate that the process would be inexpensive and affordable.
The grounds for an absolute divorce include the following: reasons stated under legal separation and annulment under the Family Code of the Philippines, separation in fact for at least five years, legal separation by judicial decree for at least two years, psychological incapacity, gender reassignment surgery, irreconcilable differences, and joint petition of the spouses.
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